“Derren Brown: Secret”

Susan Granger’s review of “Derren Brown: Secret” (Atlantic Theater Co./Linda Gross Theater)


For several months, British magician Derren Brown, who sells out 1,700-seat Palace Theater in London’s West End and has been awarded two Olivier Awards and one BAFTA (the British equivalent of an Oscar), has been performing, at the 200-seat Linda Gross Theater, part of Manhattan’s Atlantic Theater Company.

Brown’s particular brand of magic is called mentalism, or mind-reading, and his shows are centered on the audience, not on him. What he creates are illusions and he throws Frisbees into the audience to choose volunteers.

Derren Brown doesn’t want any information regarding the specifics of his show to be shared, which makes ‘reviewing’ daunting. But good critics never reveal ‘whodunit’ or the twist at the end of the movie, right?

Having said that, Brown’s show begins with a series of questions whose answers are determined by subtle physical cues. And he doesn’t always get them all right, which only serves to up his ‘likeability’ quotient.

“We are all trapped inside our own minds,” Brown tells the audience, adding that the stories we tell ourselves are precisely what limit our perceptions. These tales, which impose logic on confusion, serve to simplify the complexities of real life.

“It’s all fiction,” he concludes.

The one ‘secret’ Brown, a former Roman Catholic schoolboy, does reveal is that he’s gay, an admission which sets the tone for a climate of confessions from members of the audience.

Brown shares writing credit with Andy Nyman and Andrew O’Connor, his co-directors, who indulge in subtle details. Like: listen carefully to the choice of songs that play before the show and during intermission; the music eventually becomes relevant.

Obviously, Derren Brown’s future is headed for Broadway, so catch him now – while you still can.